From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 9, Number 9 - May 19, 2009
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Council looks at required alcohol training course

by Mari Muzzi

A proposed alcohol ordinance requiring all liquor license holders to have their employees attend training courses took a step closer to being approved by the Pinedale Town Council during its meeting on Wednesday.

It passed its first reading, but some had concerns whether the alcohol training found in the ordinance should be required.

“We’re not sure we want to make it mandatory,” said Pinedale Mayor Steve Smith on Monday. “We think it’s a good program, but we’re not sure the government should be telling business owners what they have to do.”

The ordinance would require bars, liquor stores and restaurants to have their employees attend the TIPS (Training for Intervention procedureS) program.

It is designed for the training of responsible service, sale and consumption of alcohol and to help employees recognize those who are underage and handle other issues such as drinking and driving and binge drinking.

The class would have to be offered more than annually due to the employee turnover rates at bars, council members said.

The course is eight hours in length and can be offered during a one-day period or broken into two four-hour sessions.

Council members also questioned what times bar patrons under 21 should be required to leave an establishment.

Sublette County Treatment Coordinator Kathy Anderson said the goal of the ordinance is to reduce underage drinking and the amount of DUI cases in the county.

“The idea seems to make sense for our community,” she said. “Alcohol charges in this county have gone up from a minimal of a couple hundred to well over that amount in the past seven years.”

Anderson said counties that have used the program have seen a drop in DUIs and other alcohol-related crimes.

“The idea has passed and (council members) are in favor of the ordinance,” she said.

The objective is to bring the TIPS training program into the county to prevent employees and bar owners from having to travel.

“They have no reason not to provide it – it doesn’t cost them anything,” Anderson said. “It’s my understanding from Mr. (Dave) Bell over at Tegeler that (the training is) already a requirement; they’re just not doing it because it’s not convenient.”

Council members had concerns about making the program mandatory, especially for establishments that haven’t been cited for serving people who are underage.

“To have to tell (these establishments) they’ve got to do something, they’re not going to like that very much,” council member David Smith said. “It’s going to be hard to tell those people that they need to do have their staffs trained when they’re going to look at you and say ‘why, we haven’t caused any problems.’”

Anderson disagreed and said having a required program for all establishments would benefit the county.

“It’s sort of like putting up crosswalk signs; people might say ‘why do I have to look at these signs and put up with them, I haven’t ran over anybody yet;’ that’s the same logic,” she said.

The council will continue to review the ordinance and have a second reading during its next meeting.

“Hopefully, the Town Council will pass the ordinance after the next couple of readings and it will act as an incentive for the businesses of Pinedale to ensure that they do not sever underage persons.”

In other town news:

• Pinedale resident Dale Hill brought forth a signed petition that contained 43 names against ordinance 442. That ordinance currently allows the county to see building site plans before new businesses are constructed in the county.

“We were told that there are cities the size of Pinedale that have site plans like 442, but I did some research and didn’t find any,” Hill said.

Mayor Smith said the ordinance would benefit Pinedale, especially when dealing with large national companies if they came to the town.

He said the ordinance needs to be rewritten and public involvement is vital.

“It protects business owners and it protects the town,” Mayor Smith said.

He told Hill those who signed the petition should attend the council meetings to discuss the ordinance.

“I appreciate your petition, but let’s sit down sometime so we can move forward with the site plan and help you protect your business,” Mayor Smith said.

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